Committee on the Judiciary - mars-1a:hrs01JUD2141_110216.2 - Rayburn 2141 - Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate (Part 2 of 2) - As the Framers of the Constitution understood, Congress has an independent duty to examine the constitutionality of the legislation it considers. Ideally, we should assess the constitutionality of legislation before it becomes law. However, given the unprecedented nature of the health care law's individual mandate, it is important that we examine its constitutionality even though it has already been enacted. The individual mandate--which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance--is the foundation of the new health care law. It is also unprecedented. Twenty-seven states are now challenging the constitutionality of the health care law. Two federal district court judges have ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional; two have determined that it is not. Ultimately, it will be decided by the Supreme Court. The individual mandate requires Americans to purchase health insurance from a private company. It does not matter whether they want health insurance or can even afford it. Under this law, Americans must either obtain insurance or pay a penalty. But the Constitution, which creates a federal government of limited, enumerated powers, does not necessarily allow Congress to require individuals to purchase any good or service, including health insurance.
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